In the year 1947, Indian got its political freedom yet the Nehruvian consensus kept the colonial state machinery they inherited from British raj intact for its convenience in course of seven decades. The country’s education system was handed over to colonizers and thereafter to their Marxist slaves who poison young minds even today. This neo-colonial ecosystem sidelined many leaders and historical personas who don’t fall in line with the narrative. If there be any word to illustrate the writing of history in India after independence, it would be “ingratitude”.
Who’s the architect of the Indian Constitution? Ask any school-going kid or even adult, the answer will be Dr. BR Ambedkar. I will put light on the precision of this assertion.
Democracy, a brand-new political religion that can be popularly described as Constitutionalism. India as the largest democracy of the world reveres the constitution as grundnorm of nation as prophesied by Hans Kelsen centuries ago. So how India as a democratic project began?
Even before this well-defined political tradition “democracy” came into existence, independent republics with quasi-democratic institutions existed in India that even predates Greeks. The same pluralistic approach can be observed in the cultural diversity and autonomy of different Indic communities and sects. So within those 90 years of British colonialism, India consistently strived for self-independence or “swatantra” finally pushing British Raj to grant constitutional autonomy to India in the year 1935.
To implement the Government of India Act 1935, various departments of the British administration were required to transfer authority to Indian representatives. After appointment as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Viceroy’s Reforms Office, an Indian bureaucrat observed those departments were reluctant to give up their control. Although to tame revolutionaries British empire enabled Indian self-government on paper, the colonialists like Winston Churchill denounced the movement for it was undermining the very base of British sovereignty in India. Under such circumstances that particular civil servant corresponded with the British government through various notes and memoranda for two years to consider the Government of India Act 1935 as a constitution, not a just mere piece of ordinary legislation. This was the dawn of Indian constitutionalism initiated by an Indian diplomat working even in the colonial administration who set the stage for complete power transfer to India.
That bureaucrat in question is the protagonist of my essay, Sir Benegal Narasimha Rau. A born meritorious Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin Rau graduated with three triple degrees in English, Physics, and Sanskrit and an additional degree in Mathematics as a topper in the entire Madras Presidency. Thereafter he joined executive service clearing the ICS securing 16th rank in 1909 and served as a district judge after a few years. He was the first judge on behalf of India in the International Court of Justice. Owing to his work he was facilitated as Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in the year 1934 and a Knighthood in 1938. With his keen interest in legislative and constitutional matters, he got to serve as Legal Remembrancer and Secretary to the Government of Assam. Then he was appointed as an OSD with the status of a secretary in the Governor-General’s Secretariat on the reforms side. Eventually, the desire to be the creator of Constitutional law instead of a mere interpreter fueled him. From 1935 onwards, he was the center in process of the formulation of the Indian Constitution.
After retiring from service in 1944, he was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor to the Constitutional Assembly. With the assistance of the Joint Secretary and Draftsman, S.N. Mukerjee, he prepared the entire draft constitution that consisted of 243 Articles and 13 Schedules. The draft of the Constitutional Adviser Sir B.N.Rau became the working document for the Drafting Committee. This comprehensive draft constitution was then submitted to the Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Ambedkar which added few more articles making it a revised document of 315 Articles and 8 Schedules. Then the Constitutional Assembly made some comments and changes through suggestions for three years through 2473 amendments, the final constitution emerged with 395 Articles and 8 Schedules.
Even after various amendments done within seven decades of independent India, 80 percent of it is the replica of the Government of India Act 1935. Except these, most of the features such as the preamble of the constitution, Fundamental Rights, Federal structure, the relation between Centre and the State, Emergency provisions, Judicial structure. Parliamentary form of government, provisions for a constitutional amendment were complied by B.N.Rau. He was the one who traveled to different countries to look at their constitutions and exchange views with legal luminaries across the globe about the provisions which were being contemplated for India. The most striking fact about Rau is that he never charged a penny for framing of this constitution and considered it as honoury work, however, the expenses of the Constituent Assembly were as huge as 63L.
After being appointed in Union Constitution Committee with Jawaharlal Nehru as his head, Sir Rau proposed that a questionnaire with various questions would help members to concretize their own proposals. He was asked to prepare a questionnaire. Rau prepared a series of additional notes called Constitutional Precedents that set out detailed provisions from other constitutions and indicated the merits and difficulties of adopting a provision along one line rather than another. Overall his detailed knowledge on Constitutions of other countries and extensive knowledge on the socio-economic conditions of the country due to his own administrative experience made his the most-sought after in the Constitutional development during power transfer.
Rau assisted in drafting the early Constitution of Myanmar too, on the invitation of the then Burma’s Prime Minister in 1946 which was adopted in 1947. Sir B.N.Rau’s constitutionalism and magnanimous statesmanship are also evident from his way of negotiations with Jinnah during the turbulent partition period.
Now come the Constituent Assembly of India, Drafting Committee and Ambedkar.
“We lawyers defend many things. People always keep on saying to me, ‘Oh! you are the maker of the Constitution.’ My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to do, I did much against my will.”
“Sir, my friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody.”
~ Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
This is one popular dialogue of Ambedkar in the Council of States (Rajyasabha as known in that time) in the year 1953 when a Bill to establish the state of Andhrapradesh was being discussed. Was Ambedkar palming off his responsibility or was just being honest?
In another Rajyasabha debate in 1952, Ambedkar utters:
“Article 31 with which we are dealing now in this Bill is an Article for which I, and the Drafting Committee, can take no responsibility whatsoever. We do not take any responsibility for that. That is not our draft.”
“The Congress Party… was so divided within itself that we did not know what to do, what to put and what not to put.”
~ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
The democratically elected Constituent Assembly had been functioning since December 1946 while the Ambedkar-headed “Drafting Committee” did not even come into being till August 1947.
Sir B.N. Rau was asked to prepare a Draft what he called “The First Draft of the Constitution of India”. By October 1947, with the assistance of the Chief Draftsman to the Assembly, S.N. Mukherjee, Rau submitted it to Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly passed a resolution to constitute a “Drafting Committee” on 29th August 1947 to “scrutinize the Draft of the text of the Constitution prepared by the Constitutional Adviser giving effect to the decisions taken already in the Assembly and including all matters ancillary there to or which have to be provided in such a Constitution, and to submit to the Assembly for consideration the text of the Draft Constitution as revised by the Committee.”
Along with the members of the Constituent Assembly, learned individuals and organizations across the country were invited to send their comments on it. The comments were then collated by B.N.Rau and the Secretariat. He wrote out his observations on all the important suggestions and comments which had come in as a long summary. The Drafting Committee started evaluating the comments and suggestions on basis of Rau’s assessments. Now various authorities started reviewing the comments they made earlier and the final draft was presented to the President in November 1949.
That is how the Constitution was framed where Ambedkar played a significant role in some way, but not as a creator for all practical purposes.
Contrary to the fictional tales celebrated by his worshippers, Ambedkar claimed neither the authorship of the Constitution nor the originality of it.
“It is said that there is nothing new in the Draft Constitution, that about half of it has been copied from the Government of India Act of 1935 and that the rest of it has been borrowed from the Constitutions of other countries. Very little of it can claim originality. One likes to ask whether there can be anything new in a Constitution framed at this hour in the history of the world. More than a hundred years have rolled over when the first written Constitution was drafted. It has been followed by many countries reducing their Constitutions to writing. What the scope of a Constitution should be has long been settled. Similarly what should be the fundamentals of a Constitution are recognized all over the world. Given these facts, all Constitutions in their main provisions must look similar. The only new things, if there can be any, in a Constitution framed so late in the day are the variations made to remove the faults and to accommodate it to the needs of the country.”
“As to the accusation that the Draft Constitution has [re]produced a good part of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935,” Ambedkar continued, “I make no apologies. There is nothing to be ashamed of in borrowing. It involves no plagiarism. Nobody holds any patent rights in the fundamental ideas of a Constitution.”
~ Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
Once the Draft was submitted by Sir B.N.Rau, the prominent political party Indian National Congress was another determinant of activities of the Drafting Committee. The Congress members of the Constituent Assembly and the leaders would discuss and settle the matter before the formal meetings. This validates the claim of Ambedkar that he just carried out the decisions of others. The amendments were being scrutinized, new recommendations were being accepted and rejected in Congress party meetings and the Drafting Committee was only left to give them constitutional shape.
In the final session of Shiban Lai Saksena told the Assembly:
“Under the procedure adopted, the Drafting Committee could not get the advantage of the free opinion of the whole House and decisions of the Congress Party alone became binding upon it. I personally feel that the Constitution has very much suffered on this account. Out of about 10,000 amendments which appeared on the Order Paper from time to time during the course of the last one year, I think this House had opportunity for discussing hardly a few hundreds. The rest were all guillotined inside the Congress Party and were not moved in this House because the Party did not accept them. Congress Party meetings became meetings of the real Constituent Assembly, and this real Assembly became the mock Assembly where decisions arrived at the Congress party’’ meetings were registered….”
K. Santhanam defending the scrutiny by the INC addressed the following to the assembly:
“the work of the Drafting Committee is, to my mind, beyond all praise. Especially during the last few months they have been so hurried, so much pressed for time that it is remarkable how they did their work. I should also mention that it was not only on the open floor of the House that the Constitution has been scrutinized, but much more severely during the Congress Party meetings. I do not want to mention names, but a group of people in the Party took the greatest pains to scrutinize every clause and ever)’ Article and a great deal of improvement was made during those meetings. But for their scrutiny the Constitution would not have been as good as it is….”
Dr. Ambedkar himself proclaimed the all-important role of the Indian National Congress in the making of Indian Constitution:
“The task of the Drafting Committee would have been a very difficult one if this Constituent Assembly had been merely a motley crowd, a tessellated pavement without cement, a black stone here and a white stone there in w’hich each member or each group was a law unto itself. There would have been nothing but chaos. This possibility of chaos was reduced to nil by the existence of the Congress Party inside the Assembly which brought into its proceedings a sense of order and discipline. It is because of the discipline of the Congress Party that the Drafting Committee was able to pilot the Constitution in the Assembly with the sure knowledge as to the fate of each Article and each amendment. The Congress Party is, therefore, entitled to all the credit for the smooth sailing of the Draft Constitution in the Assembly.”
It’s evident from developments in his life that Ambedkar was an arch-rival of Gandhi and didn’t belong to the inner circle of Congress. Ambedkar on the other hand says things done was pre-decided and had to go through smooth process in the Assembly, so his influence on the Constitution we have today is not very much. He also wanted to be the first person to burn it like he did with Manusmruti. Like Jinnah wanted a separate nation for protecting the interests of Muslims at the cost of national interest, likewise Ambedkar led All India Scheduled Casts Federation passed a resolution for ‘Separate Settlements’ for Scheduled Castes (B.R. Ambedkar; Writings and Speeches, Vol. 9, p. 393). Ambedkar was strictly against conferring any right to STs or ‘Aboriginal Tribes’ in his language who “have not yet developed a political sense”, but they were given constitutional protection since the beginning. He submitted another document labeled as ‘Constitution of the United States of India’ that was entirely rejected by the Assembly. So why was he named as “the father of Indian Constitution”? Keep pondering!
As the politicians in Socialist Eden India have found an effortless way to harvest votes through casteist electioneering and propaganda. Honours and achievements by the State have been bequeathed on to Ambedkar, with the authorship of the Constitution being one of them, to make him an cult icon. This farce has gone so long that to ascribe the Constitution to Ambedkar and hail him as a pioneer of Indian constitutionalism that Maharashtra Government figures the draft as one of his “Writings” in Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches if it was one of the things he had authored! Quite the contrary, out of the 23 volumes of The collected works of Bhimrao Ambedkar, published by the Maharashtra Government, it is hard to find any single article or speech in which Ambedkar can be seen even arguing for India’s Independence, but he was rather anxious to strengthen British Influence in India (Secretary of State for India to Viceroy: Secret, Private and Personal, 28 December 1932). This myth of authorship stays unquestioned because of the rhetorical bullying and physical intimidation by his worshippers and political entities who succumbed to this trend of politics.
Sadly enough, this hero-worship of Ambedkar also resists the democratization and fundamental reforms in the existing Constitution, which finds its very basis in the Government of India Act 1935 that was termed as “Charter of Slavery” by Pt. Nehru. It resists revisioning dysfunctional features from the Anglosphere and awards the judiciary the power to impose its philosophy over a democratically elected government that reflects people’s will which can aptly be described as “tyranny of the unelected”. This status quo is beneficial for both the State and the constitutional organizations, but non-elite subjects are who bear the burnt of the illegitimacy of this Basic Structure Doctrine.
Today if you deny to accept a dyed-in-the-wool colonialism sympathizer like Dr. Ambedkar as the author of the Indian Constitution, you will be branded as Manuvadi bigot! Still the truth prevails the Indian Constitution is not Ambedkar-smruti but just another ManuSmruti authored by the Manu of our time, Sir B.N.Rau.